Jet Ski Life Jackets vary in the market, with some being very comfortable and represent good value. I’ll show you the best PFD options in this buying guide.
I personally love riding out there in the ocean at any chance I can! But….I put safety on my PWC first and foremost. It’s so easy for something to go wrong and you’ll be in trouble very quickly if you’re not wearing the most important piece of protection when out there riding.
Best Jet Ski Life Jackets
In writing this guide, I look at what’s best on the market and what current jet ski riders are using right now while riding. Whether that’s ocean swell, river canals or calm lakes, there’s certainly a life jacket for you.
Here are the best jet ski life vests of 2022:
1. O’Neill Reactor USCG Life Vest
I really do believe the O’Neill Men’s Reactor USCG Life Jacket offers excellent value for money. It’s designed exclusively for high-speed water sports such as jet skis and tubes.
O'Neill Men's Reactor USCG Life Vest
- USCG Approved Personal Flotation Device; Perfect for Wake Sports, Waterskiing, Tubing, and Swimming
- Segmented Foam Core And Anatomical Flex Points Allow Unrestricted Movement
- Quick Release Safety Buckles And Heavy Duty Front Zipper Create an Unparalleled Sense of Security
- Minimal Bulk Design Allows Full Mobility, While Expansion Panels Enable a Comfortable Fit
- Relaxed Fit For The Water Sports Enthusiast Who Wants Some Room To Move
It’s approved by use through the United States Coast Guard as a personal flotation device while also not being restrictive for the wearer. Essentially, this gives you freedom on the handlebars to move around.
There are two buckles plus a strong zipper which lasts for a long time. You can also buy this in a range of colors so it appears to both Yamaha and Sea-Doo owners.
2. Airhead SWOOSH Kwik-Dry Neolite Flex Life Vest
The close runner-up on this list is the Airhead jet ski life jacket Swoosh model. It’s a Type III jet ski life jacket that is closed sided. This is really great for children and adults alike.
Airhead Adult Swoosh Kwik-Dry Neolite Flex Life Vest, Red, Youth
$45.72 in stock
3 used from $37.26
As it’s made with neolite quick-drying materials, you’ll know that it isn’t going to take hours to dry off before throwing into the back of the car once you’re done riding. That’s something I really like about this one.
Also, it’s available in a few different colors and is ideal for adults, but they also make a kids version.
3. Body Glove Phantom PFD Life Vest
This is definitely more of a racer-style life jacket. If you’re looking for something ergonomic but also looks great when you’re riding, then I’d take the Body Glove Phantom.
Body Glove Men’s Phantom USCGA Life Jacket PFD- BLU/AQU2-L
$67.83 in stock
This life jacket is ideal for jet ski riding as well as other watersports. Let’s say you’re into water sking, wakeboarding or simply tubing, then you’ll love this one.
The foam is super soft on this model which means it’s quite flexible for the rider who doesn’t want to feel like they’re being hugged too much. It’s also less likely to ride up and touch your neck the moment you fall into the water.
4. Stearns V1 Series Hydroprene Life Jacket
This one is quite unique and something I’m so excited to add to my roundup of the best jet ski life jackets of this year. As USCG approved, the Stearns Men’s V1 Series Hydroprene Life Jacket is seriously a great choice for new riders with strong reviews based on rider feedback.
Stearns Men's V1 Series Hydroprene Life Jacket, Medium, Gold
$71.99 in stock
- US Coast Guard-approved
- Lightweight Hydroprene material construction for softer comfort and more maneuverability
- V-Flex sculpted back design moves with you
- Ride up tabs to readjust the jacket after you jump into the water
- Durable construction: Hydroprene material shell, PVC foam, zipper and two 1.5-in. (3.81 cm)webbed, buckled straps
I personally have seen a few riders wearing these life vests out there. It seems the V-Flex sculpted back design and ride up tabs really does help to make this a life jacket that you can feel comfortable wearing.
My recommendation is to pick the green color as it’s less likely to get hot in summer. The other option is the black color which really heats up after 30 minutes of riding around.
5. O’Neill Flex Superlite Neoprene
While popular with surfers, you can still use the O’Brien line of life jackets for jet skiing and other high-octane water sports. This isn’t a flexible life jacket but if you want wind protection and something that really hugs you tight, then you’ve found the right option.
This is a Type III Personal Flotation Device (PFD) and comes with a PWC lanyard attachment ring. Essentially – they have really thought of the riders in mind when they created this.
The reviews of O’Brien life jackets for jet ski riding are very strong. Just remember that they are designed for a snug fit, not a loose fit so avoid going up in size where possible.
6. BRP Sea-Doo Men’s Neoprene Freedom PFD Life Jacket Vest
Did you know that Sea-Doo makes their own life jackets for their jet ski riders? Neither did I because I was too blindsided by all the mainstream brands on the market.
I’ll admit – I don’t like their designs here. They could be so much better which I guess why these models aren’t so popular. BRP should just stick to what they’re good at – making fast machines!
I like this one as the zipper is off to the side. It just feels more secure though the straps could be stronger.
7. JetPilot Sullen Hybrid Jet Ski Life Jacket
Maybe you’re looking for something aggressive? That’s where the JetPilot Sullen is the ultimate life jacket for you. It’s got the signature looks and affordable pricing to match!
It’s very lightweight and low bulk. The only thing we wonder is why didn’t JetPilot make this as a summer life vest with lighter colors, but it seems they are clearly going after the total speeding rider.
It’s made from a neoprene and nylon combination with good comfort and great styling.
Buying Guide: What To Look For
Now not every life jacket you come across for any watersports activity is made the same. This is why you need a specific one when riding your personal watercraft.
- Look for US-Coast Guard approved as boat life jackets aren’t suitable.
- Ensure there is a spot to connect your safety languard to the life jacket
- If you ride in cooler areas, look for black to keep you warm out there.
- If you ride in warmer areas, look for other colors that help deflect the heat
- Be mindful of the use-by date and you risk a big fine if you ride past this date.
What are jet ski life jackets made from?
Jet ski life jackets are essentially made from two materials: Neoprene and Nylon. Neoprene is much more popular as they are incredibly comfortable to wear and keep warm with, though they do get heavy once wet. Unfortunately, they do cost more. Nylon is a great choice if you value simplicity and value.
Is there a difference between mens and womens life jackets?
Yes, manufacturers do make different jet ski life jackets for men and women. Men’s life jackets can be worn by women, but women’s life jackets can really be worn by women (the colors give you a hint). The main difference with female life jackets is the armholes and chest area is built differently as you would imagine.
What size should I get?
It’s often easier to go to a jet ski dealership to try on some life jackets but this isn’t always possible. Instead, I can recommend you measure yourself properly. The vest should always feel snug but not restrictive since you’ll be wearing this for hours on each ride. All of the life jackets I featured on this buying guide here actually have reasonably accurate sizing guides for the smallest of riders (including children) right up to large adult riders.
Is there anything else I need?
Yes! I can recommend a safety whistle, a neoprene vest underneath to prevent chaffing and a nightlight if you’re riding after dark. Also consider buying a few different life jackets so if you have friends and family come riding, then you’ve got some great options to keep everyone entertained!
Clearly there are some great options for personal watercraft enthusiasts that I’ve listed here. This isn’t all that’s on the market but if you ride a Yamaha, Sea-Doo or Kawasaki, you’ll be more than happy with these whether you’re just towing tubes or riding big waves.
Most people do buy their life jackets online nowadays and I can feel safe with that recommendation. If there’s anything I can do to help, then let me know!